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Behavior, color change and time for sexual inversion in the protogynous grouper (Epinephelus adscensionis).

Kline RJ, Khan IA, Holt GJ - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: In five captive experiments, the largest remaining female rock hind displayed the male specific color pattern within 32d after dominant male removal from the social group.To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in a grouper species of color patterning used to display territoriality and dominance outside of spawning aggregations.The behavioral paradigm described here is a key advance that will enable mechanistic studies of this complex sex change process.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Marine Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, Texas, United States of America. rjkline@mail.utexas.edu

ABSTRACT
Hermaphroditism, associated with territoriality and dominance behavior, is common in the marine environment. While male sex-specific coloration patterns have been documented in groupers, particularly during the spawning season, few data regarding social structure and the context for these color displays are available. In the present study, we define the social structure and male typical behavior of rock hind (Epinephelus adscensionis) in the wild. In addition, we detail the captive conditions and time period necessary to induce the onset of the sex-specific coloration and sexual change. At six oil production platform locations in the Gulf of Mexico, rock hind social group size and typical male rock hind social behavior were documented. We observed a rapid temporary color display in rock hind that could be turned on and off within three seconds and was used for confronting territory intruders and displays of aggression towards females. The male-specific "tuxedo" pattern consists of a bright yellow tail, a body with alternating dark brown and white patches and a dark bar extending from the upper mandible to the operculum. Identification and size ranges of male, female and intersex fish collected from oil platforms were determined in conjunction with gonadal histology. Rock hind social order is haremic with one dominant male defending a territory and a linear dominance hierarchy among individuals. In five captive experiments, the largest remaining female rock hind displayed the male specific color pattern within 32d after dominant male removal from the social group. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in a grouper species of color patterning used to display territoriality and dominance outside of spawning aggregations. The behavioral paradigm described here is a key advance that will enable mechanistic studies of this complex sex change process.

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Photographs of typical rock hind coloration patterns.Head markings of rock hind A) male or female cryptic pattern; B) male or female aggressive eye-bar pattern; C) male-specific territorial “tuxedo” pattern; and D) Aspects of the “tuxedo” pattern showing white and brown patches, yellow tail with brown border and head markings. The “tuxedo” pattern is an ephemeral color pattern. Males can switch from any of the patterns (A, B or C) very quickly.
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pone-0019576-g002: Photographs of typical rock hind coloration patterns.Head markings of rock hind A) male or female cryptic pattern; B) male or female aggressive eye-bar pattern; C) male-specific territorial “tuxedo” pattern; and D) Aspects of the “tuxedo” pattern showing white and brown patches, yellow tail with brown border and head markings. The “tuxedo” pattern is an ephemeral color pattern. Males can switch from any of the patterns (A, B or C) very quickly.

Mentions: The typical color pattern of both male and female rock hinds is a cryptic camouflage pattern consisting of white, light brown and red-brown spots (Figure 2A). When agitated, both male and female rock hind can display a darkened horizontal bar extending from the upper mandible through the eye and ending at the operculum (Fig. 2B). However, the male also displays a dramatic, temporary color pattern that we designated the “tuxedo” pattern (Figure 2C–D) consisting of a bright yellow tail, and a body with alternating dark brown and white patches. In addition, a distinctive pattern was displayed on the head consisting of a dark bar extending from the upper mandible to the operculum and a bright white spot below the eye (Fig. 2D). Although not specifically measured, this pattern appeared to be very consistent from fish to fish in field observations.


Behavior, color change and time for sexual inversion in the protogynous grouper (Epinephelus adscensionis).

Kline RJ, Khan IA, Holt GJ - PLoS ONE (2011)

Photographs of typical rock hind coloration patterns.Head markings of rock hind A) male or female cryptic pattern; B) male or female aggressive eye-bar pattern; C) male-specific territorial “tuxedo” pattern; and D) Aspects of the “tuxedo” pattern showing white and brown patches, yellow tail with brown border and head markings. The “tuxedo” pattern is an ephemeral color pattern. Males can switch from any of the patterns (A, B or C) very quickly.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3102057&req=5

pone-0019576-g002: Photographs of typical rock hind coloration patterns.Head markings of rock hind A) male or female cryptic pattern; B) male or female aggressive eye-bar pattern; C) male-specific territorial “tuxedo” pattern; and D) Aspects of the “tuxedo” pattern showing white and brown patches, yellow tail with brown border and head markings. The “tuxedo” pattern is an ephemeral color pattern. Males can switch from any of the patterns (A, B or C) very quickly.
Mentions: The typical color pattern of both male and female rock hinds is a cryptic camouflage pattern consisting of white, light brown and red-brown spots (Figure 2A). When agitated, both male and female rock hind can display a darkened horizontal bar extending from the upper mandible through the eye and ending at the operculum (Fig. 2B). However, the male also displays a dramatic, temporary color pattern that we designated the “tuxedo” pattern (Figure 2C–D) consisting of a bright yellow tail, and a body with alternating dark brown and white patches. In addition, a distinctive pattern was displayed on the head consisting of a dark bar extending from the upper mandible to the operculum and a bright white spot below the eye (Fig. 2D). Although not specifically measured, this pattern appeared to be very consistent from fish to fish in field observations.

Bottom Line: In five captive experiments, the largest remaining female rock hind displayed the male specific color pattern within 32d after dominant male removal from the social group.To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in a grouper species of color patterning used to display territoriality and dominance outside of spawning aggregations.The behavioral paradigm described here is a key advance that will enable mechanistic studies of this complex sex change process.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Marine Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, Texas, United States of America. rjkline@mail.utexas.edu

ABSTRACT
Hermaphroditism, associated with territoriality and dominance behavior, is common in the marine environment. While male sex-specific coloration patterns have been documented in groupers, particularly during the spawning season, few data regarding social structure and the context for these color displays are available. In the present study, we define the social structure and male typical behavior of rock hind (Epinephelus adscensionis) in the wild. In addition, we detail the captive conditions and time period necessary to induce the onset of the sex-specific coloration and sexual change. At six oil production platform locations in the Gulf of Mexico, rock hind social group size and typical male rock hind social behavior were documented. We observed a rapid temporary color display in rock hind that could be turned on and off within three seconds and was used for confronting territory intruders and displays of aggression towards females. The male-specific "tuxedo" pattern consists of a bright yellow tail, a body with alternating dark brown and white patches and a dark bar extending from the upper mandible to the operculum. Identification and size ranges of male, female and intersex fish collected from oil platforms were determined in conjunction with gonadal histology. Rock hind social order is haremic with one dominant male defending a territory and a linear dominance hierarchy among individuals. In five captive experiments, the largest remaining female rock hind displayed the male specific color pattern within 32d after dominant male removal from the social group. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in a grouper species of color patterning used to display territoriality and dominance outside of spawning aggregations. The behavioral paradigm described here is a key advance that will enable mechanistic studies of this complex sex change process.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus